Thursday, July 31, 2008

And the Award Goes to...


Thank you to Wendi at Because Wendi Said So!!! for enjoying my blog enough to honor me with this award. Right back at ya Wendi!

I must admit that I am not a fan of posting the buttons on my site so I am going to break "the rules" a little bit. However, I will give the award to some other blogs that I enjoy reading and they can do with it as they please.

The rules for this award:

1) You must pick 5 blogs that you consider deserve this award, based upon creativity, design, interesting material, and that also contribute to the blogger community.

2) Each award must have the name of the author with a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.

3) Award-winners must show the award and put the name and link to the blog that awarded it.

4) Award-winners and the one who has given the prize must show the link to the Arte y Pico blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award.

5) These rules must be included in your post.

So, I am passing this award to:

Denise at The DeBolt Family.

Jennifer at if you're happy and you know it.

Chelle at Creative Momma.

Nicki at i, wright.

Jenn at I Hate Whine.
(She gave me my first award but I didn't follow the rules on that one either. Thanks Jenn!)

Have a great day!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I was Tagged

I was tagged by Jenn over at I Hate Whine for the 6 Words Meme. I am supposed to define my life in six words and the tag 5 other lucky people.

Wow, that's a tough one!

1. Blessed
2. Full
3. Unpredictable
4. Blissful
5. Exhausting
6. Prospective

I tag:

Wendi at Because Wendi Said So!!!
Denise at The DeBolt Family
Munchkins and Music at Munchkins and Music
Jenn at Times, they are a changin'
The Mom at Cheaper than Therapy

Please don't feel obligated to continue this. You can list your six on your blog, in my comments or not at all.

Have a great day!

"I Love to Fwing!" (Wordless Wednesday)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Friday Night Strombolis

As I mentioned in previous posts, we get together with Mark's business partner's family most Friday nights and trade off cooking duties. A few weeks ago I made strombolis and they were a big hit. They are an easy weeknight dinner and the great thing is that you can make them ahead of time and then pop them in the oven when you are ready.
Sorry there is no fancy presentation for these babies. This picture is the real deal, blowouts and all.

Friday Night Strombolis

1 large dough ball from your favorite pizza place (just ask!) or 1 lb. of frozen dough (thawed)
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (I use freshly grated, but do what suits you.)
1 egg, lightly beaten
(Filling is up to you, but I will write the recipe with what I made that night)
about 12 slices of salami (peppered salami if you are lucky enough to find it)
about 12 slices of sandwich size pepperoni
about 12 slices of ham
8 -12 thin slices of sharp provolone
1 cup of Italian blend shredded cheese (Asiago, mozzarella, etc.)
1 cup of roasted red bell pepper (jarred or self made)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Divide dough into four even portion. Roll out each portion into approximately a 10 inch round on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle dough with 1 Tbsp of parmesan cheese. In even layers place 1/4 of each of salami, pepperoni, ham, roasted red peppers and cheeses. Roll up dough and tuck ends under. Pinch all edges to seal. (Pinch well my friends...blowouts are possible!) At this point you can put them in the refrigerator and wait until you are ready to use them or go ahead and back those babies.

3. Arrange strombolis 2 inches apart (at least) on a greased cookie sheet, non-stick foil or better yet a pizza stone. Brush lightly with beaten egg and cut 3-4 slits to vent. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese.

4. Bake in the center of the oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

5. Let sit for a few minutes before cutting or serving as they will be very hot and runny inside if you don't.

These are very versatile and you can really play around with the fillings as you like. I have done peppadews (little red sweet/hot peppers) instead of the roasted red before and they were great.

I also serve mine with a side of marinara, but that is just a personal preference.

I hope you have a great time making and eating these yummy, easy strombolis!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Chris Cuomo is my Baby's Daddy

**Family members: Please read on before having heart failure. This is not an announcement.**

Every once in awhile I have the luxury of catching a few minutes of Good Morning America, a morning show I truly enjoy watching. As a busy mommy I try to find time to connect with things that are going on in the world and GMA helps with that. Unfortunately, Austin has his own morning agenda and Curious George often wins out over GMA. However, EVERY time I tune in, and Austin is around, the following phrases fill the room from his excited little body.
"Mommy, mommy!!! Look it's Daddy. It's Daddy!!!"

(Austin waving) "Hi Daddy! Hi Daddy!"

"Whatchoo doing Daddy?"

(Chris Cuomo not listening or responding to Austin)

(long pauses of watching "Daddy" talking on TV...Austin wondering how "Daddy" got in there but not being able to articulate that)

"I see you Daddy! Hey....Daddy! Hey Daddy?"

(Chris Cuomo still not responding)

(Austin gives up and goes to play......or asks to watch Curious George)

I am not making this up! He truly believes that Mark is sometimes the host of GMA. Of course, Mark cannot observe this for himself because, well, that would be really confusing for a two year old.
For me, it is sweet entertainment and I love it.

Here is a comparison photo of Chris and Mark for your judgment. Can you see where Austin gets it?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Lost in Translation

As a mom (or dad) you end up being the expert in deciphering and translating the "language" of your child. Though Austin speaks pretty clearly for his age, he has some real doozies when it comes to words or phrases that he uses. Here is just a sampling of some of the best of his current repertoire.

digga: digger - any construction type vehicle that he believes is capable of digging

deegaa: digger - the long, drawn out, excited pronunciation of digger when he is surprised by seeing one as we drive around. "Mommy, I see a deegaa, a deegaa! Woah, big deegaa!"

bud-ee: birdie- as in "Mommy look! There's a bud-ee...tweet, tweet." sound effects always included.

men-a-mens: vitamins - as in "men-a-mens, two men-a-mens faw me"

Pee-paw: Grandpa - "Pee-paw wait faw me"

muh-ma-toes: tomatoes - yes, he eats tomatoes. In fact, the kid is so in love with them that I have to hide them or he will constantly be begging for more muh-ma-toes. Hide tomatoes?? Who would have thought.

behpist: breakfast - "want some aw-sage for behpist"

aw-sage: sausage

Mo Kay: I'm okay- (Austin trips or something) "Mo Kay Mommy, Mo Kay"

batwees: "my toy need new batwees"

ro-nee- cheese: macaroni and cheese

puh-poo-tah: computer "watch show on the puhpootah"

Best new phrases he is using:

As he grabs my hand to shake it (almost daily) - "Nice to meet you Mommy!"...cracks me up every time and he knows it.

"Hey, Mommy! Whachoo doing Mommy?"

"See you waiter ow-wi-gatta"

"I needigo night night." (love that one!) "I no wanna go night night" (ugh!!!)

(As he holds my face between his hands) "Wisten to me Mommy, wisten" ...hmmm...wonder where he got that one?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Beating the Heat

Last Friday we were in the middle of a nasty heat wave. Fortunately for Austin, we had planned to go to visit Grandma and play with the little boy she watches on Fridays. She had set up the baby pool and some other fun outdoor things for the boys to play with.
Keith is 4 and Austin is 2.5. They had played together a couple times before but Austin was always just a little young for them to really have fun together. That all changed last Friday.

They played in the warm water of the baby pool for a little while, but then found much pleasure in kneeling on the sides and letting the water flow out into the grass. When the pool was nearly drained they realized that it wasn't going to be much fun to play in it anymore. As soon as they started to complain Grandma went and got the hose. There was a watering attachment that the boys deemed the "shou-wa." They were both running around saying, "need a shower, need a shower."

It was cold water. And, with the intense heat and humidity, the water made them shiver, giggle and feel relief, all at the same time.

Then Austin decided he wanted control of the "shou-wa" to drench his new friend.

A great time was had and by the end of the afternoon both boys were absolutely exhausted.

We are headed over to Grandma's again today so that the boys can play together. I am sure another great day of fun is in store.

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Please Help My Inner Worm

I must confess.

I am a bookworm.

Unfortunately, the worm in me has been enduring a very long winter, hibernating in a deep, deep hole.
The winter = kids.
The deep, deep hole = my day to day life.

I am desperate for some time with my head in some seriously good books. For this I need your help.

Next Saturday, August 2nd, we are heading to the Outer Banks, NC for our standard family vacation. We will be there for two weeks and I am bound and determined that I will read my way through at least 4 or 5 great books.

So...HELP!!! Please, please, please offer me some great suggestions. Don't assume that I have read anything, just tell me your current and all time favorites. I seriously have not read anything at all that wasn't a baby book or instruction manual (camera, software, etc.) in the last year or so. Last summer on vacation I read a bunch of classics that I hadn't read. So, even hits from last summer have probably not crossed my path.

I am counting on you! Please don't leave me hanging. My inner worm NEEDS you!

**If you have a book list on your blog, just send me a link so I can find it easily.**

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Brotherly Love

Here are my two little darlings spending some good bonding time together. I couldn't help but grab my camera because they were so cute together.
"Watch this Mia. This is how you move the animals from one place to another."

"That tickles!!!

"Mom, leave us alone so we can play in peace."

Okay, okay...the gig is up. My kids were playing nicely together and though the moment was sweet and oh so heart melting, I couldn't get my camera fast enough. So, I MIGHT have bribed Austin with a couple pieces of pez candy to get him to lay on the mat with Mia again so I could take pictures. The following play by play is a little more accurate.

Austin: "Moooommmmyyyy! Hurry up and take your silly pictures so I can get up from here."
Mia: "Hey Mommy! What are you doing with that black thing again."

Austin: "See this monkey Mia? It's mine! Everything in this house is got that."
Mia: "I love it when you interact with me Austin!"

Austin: "Don't touch me Mia! This monkey is mine and you can't have it. Mooommmyyy, she's touching me!"
Mia: "This is such a fun game."

Austin: "Can I have my candy now? I have cooperated haven't I?"
Mia: "Moooommmyyy, where are you? I need to see you or I will start to freak out."

At least I was honest!

My kids do have cute interactions with each other but they are hard to catch on film. Austin has started doing things to get Mia's attention and then performing for her or explaining things to her. She watches and laughs at him and he gets quite a kick out of that. It is really cute!
I guess I will just keep those moments in my heart until I can manage to get a few good shots.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Easy Summer Dinner

Oven Roasted Vegetables with Chicken Sausage

2 medium yellow squash

2 medium zucchini

1 eggplant

1 large red onion

1 large red bell pepper

1 pound of your favorite flavor of fully cooked chicken sausage

1/3 cup olive oil (or just enough to lightly coat vegetables)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Parmesan or other sharp, salty cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Rough chop all the vegetables into large chunks. Toss into a roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. If you want to give the dish some kick you can also add some crushed red pepper flakes, but that’s a mood thing for me. Usually I just really want to taste all the great vegetables and don’t want anything to cover that up. (By the way, you can really use any veggies that you like. I often include mushrooms and tomatoes as well, but just didn’t have them on hand this time.)
  3. Cut sausage into rounds and stir into the mixture. This time I bought a sundried tomato, basil, mozzarella sausage and it was wonderful with the veggies. You could certainly use any kind of sausage or substitute with portabello mushrooms for a vegetarian dish.
  4. Place in the oven and roast for about 30-35 minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes.
  5. Right before serving, top with some freshly grated parmesan or other sharp cheese. You can also top with some fresh herbs like parsley or basil and that is wonderful too.

That’s it! So easy, so simple and so delicious…well if you like vegetables that is. This dish is very versatile so play around with it until it suits you. It goes great with some crusty bread!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bubble Gum

Right before Mia was born my mom came to help out because Mark had a "little" accident. She was spending a lot of time with Austin since I was extremely, miserably nine months pregnant and Mark was incapacitated. One of the special things that she decided to try to teach Austin was to blow bubbles with bubble gum. He was VERY interested in learning this fabulous skill, but having just turned two, it was a little more than he could handle. Of course, the bubble gum that he swallowed within seconds of putting it in his mouth, was often enough of a reward.

Last month Austin got to spend some more time with his Nana while we were down at my cousin's wedding. One of the first things that he wanted to do with her was blow bubbles.
She found some gum in her purse and they each began to moisten and chew the gum in preparation for some great bubbles. Austin watched intently as Nana went through the motions of blowing a bubble.

When he watched a couple times and still couldn't do it himself, he watched even more closely. You can't tell from the picture but he does try to make the appropriate movements with his mouth, but he just can't get his tongue behind the gum. If he did manage to blow a bubble he would definitely be a gum blowing prodigy since that is quite a skill for a 2.5 year old.

He asked Nana to blow bubbles until her jaws were hurting. He truly was studying the process.

Eventually, he gave up and found thrills in popping the bubbles.
He is still trying to figure the whole thing out, but in the meantime he is having a great time practicing.
"Gum pwease Mommy!"

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dirty Llamas

Last night we were coming home from my in-law's house and as we passed a small farm with llamas I stopped so that Austin could see a Mommy llama and her baby near the fence.

Me: Austin look at the llamas
Austin: OH Mommy! Touch the llamas please?
Me: No honey. I'm sorry but we can't touch the llamas.
Austin: (sadly) Yeah. No touch the llamas. They're dirty.
Me: (giggling) Yes, Austin since they live outside they are dirty.
Austin: (pausing for a moment to ponder) Hey Mommy!
Me: Yes Austin.
Austin: I want to wash the llamas pleeeeeease.
Me: (laughing) No honey. We can't wash the llamas.
Austin: (sadly, but matter of fact) Yeah. Too heavy.

I have no idea what he meant by that but it made perfect sense to him. I appreciated the laugh and reminder of what a sweet time in my life I am currently experiencing.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Over the weekend I had to go out and buy teethers for Mia since she is apparently going to get teeth much earlier than Austin. I knew that Austin would view the teethers as toys for Mia, so I allowed him to choose one inexpensive item. He chose Backyardigans bubbles. He likes the Backyardigans because they sing and dance and one of them is named Austin. Of course, Austin was not one of the characters on the bubble wands, but he wanted them nonetheless.

He carefully selected a wand, determined that he would be successful blowing bubbles. We blow bubbles in the bathtub so he had some practice, but these were very small wands with very small holes to blow bubbles through.
Initially he only managed to spit or get it too close to his mouth.
Then he finally managed to get a bubble or two to fly.
He carefully examined the "bubble juice" in the opening. He really wants to hold the bubbles and doesn't understand yet that he can only hold them when he is in the bathtub and is soapy.

He finally asked me to blow the bubbles and I unloaded them on him as he giggled.

He then chased after the bubbles trying to catch them.

Finally, he danced in the bubbles with his daddy.

He really enjoyed his bubble time.....and so did we!

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Thursday, July 17, 2008

How to Make Your Kid Hate Soccer

First, start at a young age where the frustration level is high and the attention span is really low. Two and half is suitable and so we will use Austin as an example.

Second, begin by teaching the child how to deliver nice, swift kicks. This is helpful to the game but will also begin to tire the youngster quickly.

Next, teach the kid to dribble the ball. Quite a difficult skill for a 2 year old, so failure and frustration are sure to set in quickly.

Then, have the kid practice kicking to a large target. This will lift the spirits of the child and help him feel successful and capable right before.... give him the absolute smallest goal you can find that will still allow the ball to enter between the posts.

Come on Austin, we know you can do it! Just a little further kiddo. Isn't soccer fun???

Yeah, buddy, it's in there. Too bad you can't see that without having to bend over. Who are your parents and why do they torture you so?

"I'm outta here! I hear the neighbors have a soccer net and it has to be better than that ridiculous thing."

Obviously I'm just kidding. Austin had a great time playing soccer the other day and didn't even notice that we gave him a torturously small goal. We are thinking of enrolling him in a fall soccer program because he is actually really into soccer right now. He is constantly saying, "nice shot" and even the occasional "gooooal." It is just too cute!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

While the Adults are having Mojitos

Though the watermelon mojitos are delicious and we would like to use all of our melon for that purpose, we must be responsible adults and parents and let the kid have some too. And boy does this kid LUUUUUV watermelon!!!I literally have to hide it or he will constantly be asking for some, or if it happens to be cut and on the counter, the little thief will hijack it and sneak away to eat it.

Of course if he does that, I don't have much trouble finding the hiding spot since he always lets the juice run down his forearms and drip from his little elbows.

And really...who can blame the kid. It is way more fun that way. Unfortunately, the dog doesn't like watermelon so I can't count on him to help with the sticky clean up. Oh well, cleaning is my job.

I think Austin would list watermelon as one of the best parts of summer. And this picture says it all!
What are the best parts of summer to you? Hope your summer is turning out to be all you want it to be.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Frozen Watermelon Mojitos

Because I am Cuban I felt it was only fitting that my first recipe on this blog be for a refreshing and summery mojito.
Sorry for not having a picture, but we made these at a friend's house and didn't have the camera with us.

If you have never had a mojito, then I highly suggest you give it a try. It is such a light, refreshing cocktail with a world of possibilities when it comes to changing it up. And, if you aren't into the alcohol or are on a nine month hiatus from it, you can just leave it out!

Frozen Watermelon Mojitos
serves 2-4

2 cups frozen seedless watermelon
juice of 2 limes
10-15 mint leaves (depending on size)
1/2 cup light rum
4 Tbsp simple syrup or to taste (see recipe below)
1 1/2 - 2 cups ice

1. Cut a small seedless watermelon into chunks and place in the freezer. Allow a couple hours to freeze or at least get really frosty.
2. Simple syrup: In a small saucepan bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil. Add 1/2 cup of sugar and stir to combine and dissolve. Remove from heat and place in a bottle or other container and refrigerate until cooled. Can be stored for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
3. In a blender combine all 6 ingredients until well blended and slushy. Should have the consistency of a daiquiri. Garnish with a wedge of watermelon, lime or mint sprig.

As a personal preference, I think that salt makes the flavor of the watermelon come out so I throw a pinch on the drinks.

The traditional mojito has club soda in it, so if you prefer a non-frozen mojito follow the above recipe, including the frozen watermelon, but leave out the ice. After blending pour into glasses filling only 3/4 full and then fill the rest with club soda.


Sunday, July 13, 2008


I have arachnophobia. I don't even try to pretend that I don't.
For those of you who aren't familiar with the term, it means fear of spiders.
And because of my arachnophobia, what happened to me Friday night was very unpleasant.
I am trying very hard not to think about it so that I can sleep at night. Here is the story.

On Friday nights my family and Mark's business partner's family get together for dinner at their house. We exchange weeks cooking, but always meet there since they have four kids and a MUCH more entertaining backyard. Austin wakes up from his nap most days begging to go to their house and play. They have a swingset, playhouse, trampoline, tire swing, sand box, kiddie pool with a slide and a gazebo for shade and eating. Austin loves to play with their kids and is always good and exhausted when we leave. We always have a great time.

Anyway, on with the bane of my night.

It was my week to cook and I had made strombolis and watermelon mojitos (I will post the recipes soon). In addition, there was mint flavored iced tea which was refreshing on a warm and slightly humid night. The kids were having a great time and Austin couldn't get enough of the trampoline. Eventually, Mia was starting to get fussy because it was well past her bedtime and she is one of those babies that won't fall asleep if it is hot, she is overtired or basically if she isn't at home in her bed. I started to try to gather things up and get ready to go. I grabbed my iced tea and poured a little bit more in my cup. About that time Austin came running under the gazebo. I told him it was time to take off his wet swim trunks and get ready to go. He noticed the cup in my hand and said, "lemonade pwease." I told him that it was iced tea and not lemonade..."iced tea pwease." Austin is infamous for putting his hand in the cup to get some ice, so I decided to just quickly drink what I wanted and give him the rest while I finished packing up. I was basically chugging the iced tea. I finally stopped and looked into the cup to be sure that I wasn't leaving him too much or too little. That action, and the fact that Austin wanted some to begin with, is what saved me from therapy. As I looked into the cup to check the amount, I saw something dark in the bottom of the cup. Initially I thought to myself, "I'm sure it is just a shadow or I just can't see clearly because it is getting dark." But, after looking carefully I was sure there was something, like a bug, in the bottom of the cup. Meanwhile, Austin was begging for iced tea and I was trying not to freak out. I grabbed another cup and poured him some tea so that I could go in the house where there was better light and determine what was truly in the bottom of my cup. I walked inside and as soon as the light hit the cup, I knew. There, swirling around in the ice of my minty tea was a very large daddy long-leg spider. It is possible that those long legs may have touched my lips! Ugh...yuck....ppffttt...go to my happy place!

I am cringing as I write this and trying hard to just get the story down without letting it sink in too much. Oh the horror of what did or could have happened!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Her Smile

Pretty soon this gummy smile will disappear.
Mia is teething!
Austin didn't get teeth until he was nearly 10 months old, but she is already starting.
The other day she woke up from her nap prematurely as she had been doing for a couple days. I decided to try to get her back to sleep by laying down in my bed with her. Actually, I selfishly wanted a little nap and was just hoping that would work, though it is rarely successful. I laid down with her and she beamed a huge smile at me. I know she was thinking, "Yes! I wanted to spend some one on one time with you Mommy." As she laid there smiling at me, I looked into her mouth and noticed two little white spots on her lower gums. Now I knew why she was waking up early from her naps and in the middle of the night...teething.
So far I can't feel the sharpness of the teeth actually breaking through, but she is chewing on her fingers and fist, and drooling like a leaking dam. She not only soaks herself most of the time, but me too. I have definitely been displaying quite a "mommy" fashion statement lately!
Another Mia first is on the way.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

His Thingy

Over the last few days Austin has started a new "habit." It is driving me crazy and though I have tried to remain level-headed about it and tell myself it is just a phase, it is plaguing me.

I don't know if all boys go through this or if it is just an Austin thing, but I want it to stop.

Based on the title of the blog you may already be drawing conclusions about the nature of this new habit, but that may be a bit misleading.

You see the title should emphasize the last letter to be appropriate to the problem.

He has all of the sudden started attaching the "ee" sound to many of his words.
"Mommy, look at my trucky."
"Where is my cuppy?"
"Going to churchy"
"Sleep in my bedy"
"Eating a hot dogy."

Ugh... The teacher in me is screaming!

I have tried to remain calm and not draw attention to this little habit of his. I always respond to him with the proper pronunciation of the word and say, "Yes, Austin. We are on our way to church."

I hope he gets over it soon. Otherwise his mommy the teacher and his aunt the speech pathologist might have to do an intervention.

Just kidding......I think!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Our Story: Chapter 2 - Just Dinner

**If you haven't read the other segments of this story click here.**

“What is HE doing here?”

I knew I had to craft my answer carefully.

I coolly replied, “Oh, he was just on his way over to Christi’s house to have dinner with her and she wasn’t able to go, so I am going instead. He is on business expenses after a trip to D.C. and just wanted some company.”

He asked me when we were on the phone if there was a good place in the area to get a steak. Not having lived in the area for long, I had no idea. My friend, standing in front of me, was more familiar with the area and because she was a business person herself, I figured she might know.

“Hey, is there a good place around here to get a steak?” I asked.

“Yeah. The Strafford Inn is nice and has good food. But, I really don’t think you should be going anywhere with him. This is just not right!”

“It’s no big deal, really. It is just a business dinner and I have no intention of hiding it from Jane. I will explain the whole thing when she gets back from Germany.”

“Like I said, I don’t think this is a good decision on your part. Be sure to tell Jane when she gets home because if you don’t, I will.”

Wow, I felt like I was back in high school. I knew she would be in Jane’s ear the second her plane touched down, but what did I care. I was not doing anything wrong. Jane, Mark and I had all hung out as friends many times before. The timing may have looked bad, but it was totally innocent.

So, I hopped in the car with Mark and told him about the suggestion my friend had made for dinner. He said it sounded good and we headed in that direction. I have to admit that I was excitedly nervous, but chalked it up to getting a night out.

When we got to the restaurant we were seated at a table for two near a window at the rear of the room. It was an older inn with Victorian décor. I looked around at the fairly outdated flowery wallpaper, lacy curtains and brass fixtures. I don’t know why that made me a little suspect about whether the food would be good, but it did. The only contradiction to that assumption was that it was eight o’clock and the dining room was nearly full.

Our waiter came and introduced himself. He told us about the specials and took our drink order. We began to make small talk as we perused the menu. I quickly decided on the filet mignon, while Mark settled on the NY strip. Once the waiter took our order we started talking in a “get to know you better” kind of way. Though we had hung out in a group of friends many times, we didn’t really know much about each other. What I did know about him was that he had been married and divorced, he had a good sense of humor, he owned his own house, he had a dog named Beau and he drove a black Nissan Maxima. There was a lot we didn’t know about each other, but that is not why the conversation was so steady.

Have you ever met someone and as you talked, regardless of the topic, the conversation just flowed and was so enjoyable that you lost track of time? That is how things went that night. It wasn’t because we had a lot in common or shared a lot of similar experiences. We just enjoyed talking to each other. In fact, one of things we discovered that night was that we were bitter rivals, at least when it came to college sports. You see I attended West Virginia University and Mark attended the University of Pittsburgh. If you know anything about college sports, you know that especially in football, it is a serious rivalry.

Anyway, we talked our way through dinner and found a common love for crème brulee and coffee which we both ordered for dessert. If my mind wandered away from the conversation at all that night, it was to think to myself, “I can’t believe how much fun I am having.” Before we knew it the waiter was standing at our table with a strange, apologetic look on his face. He said, “I’m sorry to interrupt your conversation, but it is past closing time and I was wondering if you would mind paying your bill. The bar will be open for another half hour if you would like to move in there, or I can suggest some other places where you can go that are open later.” We both felt terrible as we looked around and saw that we were indeed the only people in the dining room. We had been so lost in conversation that we never even noticed people leaving, wait staff cleaning up and basically the whole place shutting down. It was 11:45 pm and though nearly four hours had passed it seemed like only minutes.

Mark paid the bill and as we stepped out into the somewhat humid night air, I was somewhat saddened that such an enjoyable evening was about to end…or was it.

To be continued…

Monday, July 7, 2008


**I apologize in advance for the bad pictures. It was raining and dark and I wasn't taking the pictures. I gave Mark a 10 second "tutorial" while I went inside with a very tired baby.**

This was Austin's face as the "fireworks" were about to begin. It was pouring rain so we had all decided against sitting in the park to watch the real thing and headed home to do sparklers.
He watched intently as the first mega sparkler was lit.
That is when this scrunchy face started.
It was plastered to his face for pretty much the rest of the event.
He finally got brave enough to want to try to, "do it myself."
Grandpa volunteered to help him with his first ever sparkler. These were huge sparklers with very long handles to keep little fingers from getting burned.
Notice the face! He wasn't sure what to think. He certainly wasn't up for waving it around. Holding it still required about all the bravery he was able to muster.
Eventually, he got a little more comfortable but the face remained.
The closer the sparks got to his hand, the less he liked it. I honestly think he just wanted it to be over. He definitely didn't beg to do another one when he was done. Good thing, because only the original sparklers were left, and I was not about to let my baby burn himself with one of those things.
Uncle Jon had a few other fun little fireworks that he set off. This is how Austin felt about those.
They were piercingly loud!
On the way home we spotted some fireworks that were taking place despite the pouring rain. We pulled over in a parking lot and let Austin observe his first fireworks (it rained last year too). Mark rolled down the windows and turned off the car so that he could hear them. Initially, he was only paying attention to the sight of them and was very excited. Then a few loud and large ones went off and he said, "No! Scary!" Mark rolled up the windows. They were pretty far in the distance and were much more muted than what he would have experienced at the park. It was probably best that it rained, because I am pretty sure he would have cried from the noise. Mia would have most likely lost her little mind!
All in all, it was a great day spent with family, and enough entertainment to have him talking about fireworks almost constantly.
Hope yours was really great as well!